On Senate Floor, Tester Presses Congress to Pass National Defense Budget: “What is a more important job for us than to keep our country safe?”

Senator: “Failure to deliver a defense budget emboldens our foreign adversaries”;

Highlights consequences for Malmstrom Air Force Base and 341st Missile Wing

As part of his continued efforts to defend Montana and keep our country safe, U.S. Senator Jon Tester on Tuesday took to the Senate floor to urge Congress to deliver a defense budget that would provide urgently needed resources for our men and women in uniform and protect our national security.

Tester opened his remarks by criticizing Congress for failing to provide certainty for our military, explaining to his colleagues that as a farmer he understands the consequences of not getting the job done: “As most folks know, I’m a farmer. We are getting winter underway and I am planning for what I’m going to plant next spring in the fields. When spring planting time comes I will have to do that job, and I will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get that job done. Because if I don’t, I lose the farm – literally. If I don’t tend to business I go broke… What I do on the farm is what people do every day in their businesses. They don’t throw in the towel at any moment in time, because they can’t. They have to stick around, they have to get the job done. We need to follow our constituents’ lead.”

Tester specifically highlighted how congressional inaction is harming Montana’s servicemembers at Malmstrom Air Force Base: “It leaves our men and women in uniform without the certainty and resources they need to protect our freedoms, both abroad and here at home. In my [state’s] case it’s the brave airmen and women serving at Montana’s very own Malmstrom Air Force Base. The men and women of the 341st Missile Wing operate our intercontinental ballistic missile fleet. These missiles are over 30 years old now and need to be replaced, the silos are over 60 years old and need to be replaced. But without a defense appropriations bill, this program will continue to be delayed because of our dysfunction.”

Additionally, Tester sounded the alarm that “failure to deliver a defense budget emboldens our foreign adversaries” like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea and warned that “the American military is being weakened across air, land, and sea because we are failing to provide predictability of delivery of assets.” His remarks also emphasized that congressional inaction is harming recruitment and retention efforts, dealing a blow to our nation’s veterans who are relying on a defense budget to strengthen TRICARE benefits, and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Concluding his remarks, Tester chastised Congress for failing to complete its most important task, keeping America safe: “The fact of the matter is that this Congress isn’t doing its job. The ‘greatest deliberative body’ isn’t doing what it needs to do. And what is a more important job for us than to keep our country safe? We wonder why [Congress’s] approval numbers are in the toilet, and it’s because of garbage like this. Montanans are tired of folks coming back to Washington to see they’re losing track of where they come from. My point is, just like on the farm, we need to stay here weekends, vote nights, work as hard as we can to get this done. Because enough is enough.”

As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester is responsible for crafting the annual Defense Appropriations bill which will provide funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and related activities in FY24. Tester’s bill would prepare our military against foreign adversaries, honor our nation’s commitment to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and ensure America retains its competitive edge over China while using made-in-Montana cutting-edge solutions and next-generation research.